Chamber head of policy and representation's Northern Echo column
How’s the return to work going? Perhaps you’re reading this on a treadmill or while eating mung beans and quinoa? Hopefully listening to something other than Slade on the radio (don’t worry, its only 11 months till they’re back….again). I’m guessing you like me are still in the fervour of new year, new you, nothing but positivity and radiating a pious and, if we’re honest, slightly sanctimonious glow toward those who’ve written the year off already or worse, haven’t surfaced from New-Year’s eve.
To spur you on and give some things to look forward to, I’m going to get out my crystal ball and see what 2018 might hold. No, not the ill-judged Sambuca cocktail you’ll drink in Greece in July or even a row with Linda in Accounts in September; but what we can expect from Government and business.
Firstly, our influence. There’s no doubt the Tees Valley is on a high, we’ve found our mojo at long last. We finished 2017 with a good Budget and great announcements on inward investment. There may be a second devolution deal on the way and it is up to us to maximise our voice as part of the Northern Powerhouse, let’s tell them what we want rather than waiting to be given it.
We also want some big transport announcements, Darlington and Middlesbrough stations are a priority as is the A66. The Industrial Strategy promised us a different way of calculating investment decisions and we want to see the Government carry that through. We’d also hope to see some decisions made on energy generation which would be great for Tees Valley.
There may be a long awaited review of business rates, the tax no-one finds fair and with so many Councils bringing their Local Plans forward, hopefully we’ll get some sensible decisions on housing.
On education, there seems to be a will to bring about an overdue overhaul of vocational education and investment in meaningful careers guidance welcomed by employers.
We may even start to see some positive signs on a Brexit deal, but let’s not get too cocky.
The newly confident, fighting fit Tees Valley is in a good place to really take advantage of all the things above, and if everything goes our way 2018 could really be our year.
So back on that treadmill and get ready for it, there were 194 calories in that final mince pie you know.